Living in a beautiful country like France can be amazing, but it sure is expensive. Because of its very desirable capital, Paris, France is much more expensive to live in than most countries in Europe. The cost of living in France varies depending on the area you want to live in and the type of accommodation you’re looking for. 

Cost of University Tuition in France

If you’re a European student looking to study in a public institution of higher education in France, you’re in luck! Despite its pricey housing, the French government assumes a large share of your tuition cost, so you will be paying approximately:

  • €170 per year (Bachelor).
  • €243 per year (Master).
  • €380 per year (Doctoral level).
  • €601 per year in an engineering school.

For non-European students: you will be required to pay different tuition fees if:

  1. It’s the first time you’re enrolling for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, or an engineering programme 
  2. You are within a higher education establishment that is under MESRI (The Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation)
  3. You are not permanently settled in France 

The state will cover two thirds of the cost and you are required to pay:

  • €2,770 per year (Bachelor).
  • €3,770 per year (Master).

Non-EU doctoral students are not required to pay different tuition fees 

Cost of Rent (Student Housing and Private Accommodation) 

The University tuition is all settled but you need a place to live right? Don’t worry, we got you. Whether you’re looking for student housing in France or renting out an apartment, we have found the cheapest options for you to accommodate yourself as comfortably as possible. 

The countryside of France along with some other parts are the least expensive. Creuse, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, is one of the cheapest departments in France for property and has a population density of just 22/km² so it would be easy to find a bargain rural retreat here. Other cities like Metz, Versailles, and Montpellier are also cheaper than other mainstream cities in France. 

Options for Student Housing

University residence halls managed by CROUS (Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires) – The residences managed by France’s regional centers for student services, known as CROUS are publicly owned and subsidized by the French government. The CROUS buildings are the first choices students make for cheaper accommodation. 

Monthly rent:

  • Paris – €400
  • Other cities in France – €200 on average

Occupants qualify for housing assistance from CAF (France’s family assistance fund) and the rooms are near campus which means plenty of interactions with other students.

Applying for a room in CROUS depends on whether you’re in an exchange program of a free mover. If you are:

  • A free mover: Apply through the CROUS website. There you will find all the information you need on accommodation in the CROUS rooms.
  • On a formal exchange Erasmus+ program: The international relations service of your host institution will take care of booking, recommending, and accommodating you in your housing. 
  • On a scholarship managed by Campus France: Campus France is also in charge of accommodating you and sending the procedures on your housing. 

In the last two cases it is not necessary to contact CROUS directly.

Websites such as Lokaviz list all of the units available in CROUS residences, and you can review them free of charge. 

Student residences owned and managed by private companies – If you’re not able to get a room in CROUS, private residences are the best alternative. The prices are higher than the ones in CROUS but they have a lot of advantages such as: furnished rooms, gym, internet, laundry facilities, interactions with students etc. There are plenty of websites you can look for private housing such as: Fac-Habitat, Studea, Les Estudines, Suitetudes, Accueil, Lokaviz (as mentioned before), Student Factory, Kley, Neoresid, Cardinal Campus etc.

Private apartments and shared rentals – A lot of students will choose to rent out an apartment, usually a studio which costs around €800 in Paris and €400 in other cities. To find the appropriate apartment size and cost you can check out websites such as SeLoger, Lodgis, or Le Bon Coin. For turnkey apartments in Paris or coliving spaces,  online platforms such as Homelike would be your best bet.

A lot of students will also opt for shared apartments. The roommates split the cost of rent and utilities which will not only save you money but hopefully make you new friends too!  Websites which students can use to find opportunities to share an apartment include Appartager, Roomlala, etc.

Living with a family or an elderly resident – If you’re looking to practice your French, like to live in a homey space or just want to experience a new living situation, you can apply to live with a French family or an elderly resident. This method has been around for a long time and is one of the most practical ways to live in France if you’re looking to save money. Some families will even offer free stay or reduce the cost of rent for childcare such as helping with homework, language lessons etc. You may also consider intergenerational housing, nonprofits match students looking for accommodation with older residents willing to give out a room for the students’ reassuring presence mostly during the night. Rent is very modest and even sometimes free. To learn more about intergenerational housing and how you can apply, visit the nonprofit website Ensemble2generations and the network Cohabilis.

Documents You Need to Rent an Apartment in France

To rent an apartment as a student, you will need:

  1. ID or Passport.
  2. Guarantor information – Photocopy ID, photocopy of employment contract, last three payslips and last tax declaration. 
  3. A letter from your guarantor in French (parents etc.)
  4. Bank reference from (you must have a French bank account) 

             Required documents to open a bank account:

  • A valid proof of identity (passport, with a visa for Non-EU citizens)
  • Proof of residence (address) in France: a lease contract or rent payment receipt and/or a recent (less than 3 months old) electricity, water or telephone bill are accepted as proof of residence.
  • A residence permit or a long-stay visa
  • A deposit to start your account
  • A recent proof of income (can be required)

To rent out an apartment in France as a professional, you will need: 

  1. ID or Passport.
  2. Proof of income (three times higher than the rent).
  3. Last tax of declaration.
  4. Residence permit (signed employment contract or work offer letter from your future employer work too).
  5. Bank reference form.

Cost of food, utilities, health insurance, and transportation

Now that we’ve covered the University tuition fee and the housing fee, we get to the fun and important part – living necessities. As you may have already heard, eating out and having nice things in France is not cheap. We’ve compiled a handy chart showing how much necessities cost approximately, so you can plan ahead and save money. 

Rent€400 to €1,200 monthly
Groceries€400 monthly
Electricity €39 monthly
Gas for heating/stove€48 monthly
Internet€26 monthly
Transportation (car maintenance)€145 monthly
Cellphone plan€16 monthly
Regular purchases of coffee, baguettes, croissants€67 monthly
Tickets for the movies€16 
Health insurance top up (hospital-only plan)€24 monthly
Inexpensive restaurant meal€13.50 
Fitness Club for 1 adult €34.45 monthly
Preschool, private, full day, monthly for 1 child€642.68 
Meal for two people, mid-range restaurant, three course€50 
Water (0.33 liter bottle)€1.67
Water (⅕ liter bottle) €0.69
Eggs (12)€2.98
Local Cheese (1kg)€15.17
Chicken Fillets (1kg)€10
1 pair of jeans€77.91

Medical expenses: 

Average cost of health insurance €40
Generalist consultation€6.60
Specialist consultation€7.50
Psychiatrist consultation€11.10
Cardiologist consultation€14.17
Filling a cavity€5.78 – €14.46
Root canal€28.20
Teeth cleaning€8.68
Prescription medicineVaries
30 Ibuprofen, 200mg each€1

Note: The prices on the medical care are as a result of health insurance. Without insurance, they are each up to 70% more expensive. 

In France, a doctor has to confirm that you need ambulance service, otherwise you will have to pay for ambulance transport. By French law, anyone in an emergency is required to be taken care of regardless of their ability to pay. 

Prescribed medication by doctors is covered by insurance. 

Cost of living with your family

If you’re getting your PhD or just want to bring your family along to live with you in France, you need to know the cost of everything for at least five people. Here are some costs and experiences of a family having lived in France for one year: 

Groceries€550-650 per month€110-130 per person
Eating out €40 per month€20 per person
School lunch for kids€120 per month, 2 kids€20-30 per person
Electricity and gas€60 per month
Telephone and internet€40 per month
WaterIncluded in rent for them
Health and medical€450 per month
Clothing€50 per month
Transportation€50 per month

Cost of taxes as a working student

A wage from a student under 26 years old is free from income tax up €4,618 (2019 income)

A student with a contrat d’apprentissage is also free from income tax up to €18,255 (2019 income). 

If you earn more than this you only need to declare the excess sum

Paris vs Metz – living cost differences

As you may know by now, Paris is one of the most sought out cities in France and the world. Which means living there will be very expensive, especially for students. Let’s compare the living cost between Paris, and one of the least expensive cities in France, Metz. 

Metz Paris
Meal at inexpensive restaurant€13.00€15.00
Loaf of fresh white bread€1.27€1.82
Eggs (12)€1.52€3.86
Water 1.5 litres €0.40€1.06
Utilities€158.08€163.14
Internet€19.75€26.78
Fitness Club€25.00€38.60
Preschool, 1 kid, 1 month€600€837.11
1 pair of jeans€53.33€89.38
MetzParis
Apartment (1 bedroom)€500€1,219
Apartment (3 bedrooms)€983.33€2,741
Average monthly net salary (after tax)€1,950.00€2,576.32

Tips by a student living in France

If you were discouraged by some of the prices, here are some tips and tricks from a student to make money saving and living in France possible. 

  • A lot of French students do not go through agencies to find a place to live because of the high cost of the apartments
  • Leboncoin is a website for selling new and secondhand clothes throughout the whole country and there is a section dedicated to accommodation
  • Blablacar is the world’s largest long-distance ride-sharing community that connects drivers with empty seats with people going to the same destination
  • CROUS – once again, it is not only for accommodating students in housing but also they provide restaurants where you can eat for less than 5 Euros
  • Velib – bike sharing company, you can rent a bicycle for 10 Euros a week, not only does it save you a lot of money and is a great form of transportation as well as exercising, it is also eco friendly 🙂 
  • Phone applications for Paris: RATP, Le Parisien Sortie, L’internaute Restos, Free Wifi Paris

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